Finding Killer Keywords for Your Content

Everyone can’t be a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert, but you can do some simple things that will make your content more competitive.  Using keywords or trending search terms in your content is one way to be found in search results. Even better, there are FREE tools that can help you identify killer keywords for your content, such as Google Trends, Google Search,  and Google keywords.

 Simple Tools for Identifying Keywords

Today I’m going to focus on two of my favorites, Google Trends and Search.  The keyword planner in Google is good, but you have to have an advertising account and I don’t like to give people advice that turns into a whole new can of worms.  Believe me, Google’s advertising platform is not for the faint of heart.

To use Google Trends first visit the Google Trends site.   Among the graphics and words, there is a blank box where you can type in a search term.  I just tried “books” and got these results.  [Click Here: Keyword Search Result]

Maximize the Power of Trends

The results screen gives you the opportunity to compare different terms and identify them as “web searches”, “youtube searches”, and other kinds of searches.     While you are here you can also:

  • dig down and get more specific, which may return a smaller number of results.  I put in “mystery novel” and saw a couple of spikes over the past couple of days, but not much else happening.
  • see the ranking by state, so you know the locations of people who are searching using your word or string of words in a search.
  • compare terms that may be close in meaning to see if there’s a difference in how popular they are.
  • set a time frame so you can see a whole year of search.  You can see if there are certain times of the year your terms are more likely to be trending.

Google continues to update the features that make Google Trends more powerful and full of information.

Use Search to Find Even More Keywords

Next you can navigate over to Google Search and type in one of the terms you feel is most popular.  Scroll down to the area that says “people also searched for…” and there will be even more phrases and words you can use in your content.  If you are stumped for ideas, you can also do this process in reverse.  Throw some words in the search bar and find some related terms for which other people are searching.  Now you know how to find killer keywords for your content.  Using this process will create greater chances for you to be seen and heard.

Newsletter subscribers will get a video demonstration on how to use Google Trends.  To subscribe please visit www.clairemckinneypr.com.

Other articles on topics related to increasing your chances of being found are on our blog.  Here is a more general commentary on SEO – What is SEO and Why Should You Be Interested?

 

Two Ways to Influence Your Rankings on Amazon

If you self-publish, there are two ways to influence your rankings on Amazon that I have learned from adapting and experimenting on the platform.  Although these tactics have been available in one form or other for a while now, they are still a mystery for many self-published authors who upload their books directly to Amazon.   Here I will address each method in order of importance.

1. Kindle Direct

I love Kindle Direct because it satisfies the practice of giving to get something in marketing.  When you publish your book directly on Amazon and sign up for Kindle Direct,  you are giving Amazon the right to sell your ebook exclusively for a period of 90 days.  This means  you are not publishing your ebook on any other platform until the 90 days are over.  In exchange you get access to a very valuable tool–a Kindle promotion.

A Kindle promotion is either a free ebook giveaway or a countdown deal.  If you look on your “marketing” tab in your KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account you can read the descriptions of both.  I like to do the free ebook because it generates more downloads–“free is free” after all.  By signing up you are now part of an Amazon promotion that is optimized based on an algorithm.  You didn’t have to learn it or guess it or pray for it, it is just there because Amazon sees some value in having exclusive access to your book for three months.

Your deal will help generate awareness, rankings, and reviews.  Rankings are based on sales numbers, rate of sales, and page visits.  So when more people click through to your deal they are counted toward your bestsellers number.  Also, in my experience, people who receive free copies of books often rate and/or review them.  You don’t even have to ask!  The rate of return of reviews is based on the amount of downloads you get.  If 100 people take advantage of the promotion, you could get between 5 – 10 reviews, which is a 5 – 10% rate of return.  Not bad for clicking a few boxes.

2. Amazon Categories

The second way to influence your rankings on Amazon is to take advantage of selecting as many categories as you can, at a granular level.  This year Amazon changed its category policies, which has made some people upset.  You can check out this Reddit link to read arguments for and against the new rules. I have a more favorable view because the new system allows you to apply some powerful marketing to themes in your book.

For example if your book is a thriller you can drill down to “psychological thriller”, “sci fi thriller”, and “techno thriller”, among others.  We had a client with a “techno thriller” book that ranked in the Amazon bestsellers top ten.  You are allowed three category listings per book page and some classifications allow you to enter two subcategories.  There are people who have expressed concern because Amazon made changes to their books’ category listings without getting approval.  In the fineprint your will find that this is permissible.  To reduce the chances of this happening, do your best to be creative but stick to topics that truly represent what is in between the covers.  If you want to play with more ideas, use them as keywords.  Just remember that what is cool or witty to you may not be for your readers.  Always think about what your readers want.

My recommendation would be to take advantage of both of these tools.  Pick your categories carefully (and your keywords) and when you are ready, launch your Kindle Select promotion.  If you do and you want to share your experience, please email us at info@clairemckinneypr.com.  For other information about Amazon, check out our most recent post about Amazon’s ordering policy.

Amazon’s Order Policy Will Affect Indie Authors and Publishers

 

Social Media for Authors: 5 Simple Solutions

In October I spoke at an Authors Guild event in NYC about social media for authors.  It was moderately attended at the library but there were over 100 online attendees, which I thought was impressive.  I realize that digital marketing and social media marketing are areas where many people struggle.  I have significant experience and success helping authors.  We even have a Social Media 101 Guide you can download for FREE.   In the meantime, I think there are a few things you can think about right now that can boost your progress.

5 Simple Social Media Solutions

Here are 5 simple solutions to common problems I have noticed when auditing social media accounts for authors.

  1. Use your photo as your profile picture.  The panel I was on in October was unanimous with loud head shaking (if you can imagine that) when someone asked whether they should use their book jacket as their profile photo.   No.  You may write more than one book, so what happens to the following you have built on the current one?  People feel more connected to people and tend to trust profiles that feature a person, not a product.
  2. Make a plan.  Posting here and there is not the way to gain an audience.  Algorithms like to get to know you and to find that you are reliably connecting with interested followers.  Decide how many posts you want to do on a weekly basis on specific days of the week around pre-determined time slots.  Figure out what your topics are beforehand and try to be consistent.  This is especially important on your Instagram grid.  Random posting looks messy and disjointed.  If you want to show people a great photo of you on vacation, use the Stories function.  Otherwise think about what you want to share and try to stick to the topics and themes.
  3. If you hate it don’t do it.  My colleagues agree that if you absolutely can not see yourself feeding a social platform don’t get started.  It looks worse to have an empty page than it does to have a small follower count, but an active page.
  4. Spend a few dollars.  When you are starting out try boosting or advertising a post to a target audience.  See what kind of engagement you get.  If it doesn’t work well, try a different topic or image.  If that doesn’t work consider changing your targets.  Play with the platform and spend $20 for 4 days of boosting.
  5. Play.  Yes, I am telling you to play with social media.  Try different combinations of colors, images, videos, text, themes, topics, audience targets, and bids for boosting to see what starts to stick.  People born before 1985 have a more difficult time using social media.  That’s ok.  I’ve seen otherwise completely anti-tech and anti-social people get excited about the amount of creativity they can apply to start a conversation or make an impression.

You Can’t Break Your Social Media

So writers, try testing out a few things and let your work entertain you in the process.  You can’t break anything when you start out, because you haven’t built anything yet.  Worry about mistakes when you have thousands of followers.  The only caveat is that you try to avoid the same topics you wouldn’t bring up at a party: Sex. Politics, and Religion

I would love to see the community you are creating on your social platforms.  Follow me at @mckinneymediagroup and I’ll follow you back!

For additional ideas check out our blog channel and search “social media”.  You can start with advice on timing: When Should You Start Being Active on Social Media?

Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does?

Book jacket for Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does? 3.0DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? 3.0
A NEW Guide for Creating Your Own Campaign
By Claire McKinney

For more information and/or to purchase the book, visit Amazon.

Book publishing is an ever-changing industry—between technological advancements, the emergence of self-publishing, and the rise of social media, how can an author distinguish their book from the competition? Whether traditional or self-published, authors can be left in the dark when it comes to promoting and marketing their books.

Book publicity expert Claire McKinney has found that the lack of information on how book promotion works has left most authors without a clear idea of how they can contribute to their campaigns. Her new book DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns, stems from over twenty years of experience in the field.

In her book, McKinney exposes the depth of extensive campaigning necessary for successful promotion. From this, authors can begin to understand the everyday workings of their in-house publicist—and for indie authors, how they can improve their own promotional efforts.

Book promotion can be rife with opportunities to make or break an author’s career, and McKinney examines these pitfalls. Showing writers how to brand themselves and identify their professional goals to properly prepare their books for success, McKinney also dives deep into important topics such as creating a personal image, writing press kits, and the importance of building momentum through media with unique insight that could only be provided by a seasoned industry professional.

Combining professional advice with charts and case studies, authors will see the inner workings of book publicity at every angle from initial idea generation to event planning.

In DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? authors will learn:

• How to promote their book to the media
• How to create their own media contact list
• How to write press release materials and how to use them
• How to create a timeline and plan a campaign on their own
• How to pitch, who to pitch, and when
• How to talk to their publisher about publicity

With McKinney’s clear voice, readers will be equipped with the tools they need to create a campaign from scratch, and have fun in the process. DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? serves as a comprehensive step-by-step guide that every author should have in their arsenal.

About the Author
Claire McKinney is twenty-year veteran of the publishing industry. She has worked for major publishers, including Little, Brown and Company, Putnam, and Disney Publishing Claire has appeared on CSPAN and on the Today Show as an expert on self-publishing. She travels regularly to speak to authors and audiences about book promotion, publishing, and social media marketing. Visit her at www.clairemckinneypr.com.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BOOK PUBLICIST DOES? 3.0
A NEW Guide for Creating Your Own Campaign
Claire McKinney
Plum Bay Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: October 2023
Paperback
Price $14.99
168 pp

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3 Ways To Use Reels To Promote Your Book

Instagram Reels are one of the best ways to grow on the platform. However, they can be very overwhelming for those who are not familiar with creating video content. Today, I will share with you three Reels ideas you can use to promote your book/profile on Instagram. 

Trends on #BookTok

Did you know that you can follow hashtags? If not, I suggest you do that now. And I would start with #BookTok. Bookstagrammers and authors use #BookTok to showcase content around books and writing. 

Often there are fun and easy Reels trends on this hashtag that do not require you to show your face (if you don’t want to) and require minimal editing. 

Check out one Kelsey Darragh did here.

Give a Brief Explanation

In 15-30 seconds, explain something interesting about you or your book.

Some examples include: 

  • Why you wrote your book
  • Your writer’s journey
  • Any short explanation about a unique aspect of your book

General Reels Trends

Another great way to use reels to promote your book is to jump on general trends. Applying trends to your brand takes a little creativity, but it should be something fun and different. 

Here are a couple of fun examples: 

  • Take this trend for answering questions and apply them to your book or writers journey
  • “You can’t look good in every picture you take” trend but book covers

Other Tips for Using Reels to Promote Your Book

Think of Instagram Reels like a business card. The point is to spread the content far and wide, not overloading your viewer with too much information. 

Do not introduce yourself. In the Reels format, you just do not have the time. This also might not hook your viewer. Instead, lead with educational or entertainment value and have an optimized profile to explain who you are to convert viewers to followers.

Include a call to action. A call to action is an essential part of any content you make that has a purpose (and if you don’t have a goal for the content, why are you making it?). 

For Reels, an excellent call to action in the video itself is to follow you or to download some sort of freebie. 

More Resources for Growing on Instagram

Instagram Reels: A Beginner’s Guide

Instagram Insights: A Beginner’s Guide

Expanding Your Organic Reach on Instagram: Video Content

3 Tips for Growing Your Personal Brand on Instagram